Sportscar manufacturers welcome LMDh class, no entries committed yet

Sportscar manufacturers welcome LMDh class, no entries committed yet

Leading sportscar manufacturers have welcomed the announcement of the new IMSA Sportscar Championship/World Endurance Championship LMDh division, without making any firm commitment to the new rules.

The unveiling of the new category that will allow cars from the top IMSA class to race in the WEC from the start of the 2021/22 season was described as a “positive step” by BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt.

But Marquardt stressed that it would be premature talk about the prospects of BMW signing up for the new class ahead of more news on the rules, which has been promised for the week of the ‘Super Sebring’ IMSA/WEC double-header in March.

“The regulations need to be finalised, and once they are all done, we will take a look at them,” he said.

“It is something more for the distant future, to consider if it fits with our strategy and what we want to achieve from a marketing point of view.”

BMW has been linked to an expansion from GT Le Mans into the top class of the IMSA series, but Marquardt stressed that the chance to go for overall victory in the WEC with the same car would not lead to an “automatic change” in its evaluation of the world championship.

The German manufacturer withdrew from the WEC’s GTE Pro class after a single season in 2018/19, citing a lack of return on investment.

Porsche factory motorsport boss Pascal Zurlinden called the alignment “good news for the industry”.

“Does it mean that Porsche is coming? We can’t comment because we don’t know the regulations,” he added.

The three manufacturers already involved in IMSA’s top Daytona Prototype international class each offered a similar viewpoint.

New Mazda North America motorsport director Nelson Cosgrove labelled the announcement from the WEC’s promoter the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and IMSA as “really cool”.

“Obviously it would be great to bring the Mazda brand back to the Le Mans 24 Hours with a factory programme,” he continued.

“LMDh would be a great opportunity to get back if it makes sense, but there is a lot of work to do to understand if we could be successful in a programme like that.”

General Motors’ director of racing, Mark Kent, whose remit encompasses the Cadillac DPi programme, said that the brand “congratulates IMSA and the ACO on their announcement of a convergence of the top class of prototype racing”.

He added: “We are encouraged at the prospect of an international formula for the future of prototype racing.

“Once we obtain further details, we will evaluate if our participation aligns with our company’s future.”

Acura stressed that it was “early to talk about the future” prior to the announcement of further information on the LMDh regulations.

The two manufacturers committed to running LM Hypercars in the WEC from the get-go of the formula, which starts this September, both offered guarded enthusiasm for the announcement.

Aston Martin said it was “pleased to note that the future of sportscar racing’s top class has been secured”.

It added that it would be “working closely with all parties to ensure that the hypercar vision retains its proper position within global sportscar competition”.

A spokesperson for Toyota offered a simple: “If this move brings more manufacturers to the top level of endurance racing, we welcome it, while waiting to see more details.”

Published at Sun, 02 Feb 2020 10:39:22 +0000

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